Issue 4 » Newhall Ranch: Tip of the Iceberg of Major SCV Developments
A Wider View of the Santa Clarita Valley Housing Crunch
Where will all the new SCV residents find mortgage-paying jobs as the population keeps growing faster than local housing and availability of those high-quality jobs?
Second in a Series by Stephen K. Peeples
In Part 1 of our series last issue, Wealth | Wisdom | Wellness focused on Newhall Ranch, and how Los Angeles County planning officials see it as part of a solution to the region’s worsening housing crunch.
But pulling back to a wider view, the massive 21,500-unit mixed-use development along Highway 126 just west of Interstate 5 and Six Flags Magic Mountain is just one of more than half a dozen major housing and commercial projects in progress or planned in and around the Santa Clarita Valley.
And viewing many of these project sites from a few thousand feet above the valley floor provides a dramatic big-picture perspective, as we saw on a recent flight over the SCV with Aviator-CPA Jorge Perazzo to shoot photos for this story.
The concerns many SCV residents share about Newhall Ranch – increased SCV population density, not enough mortgage-paying jobs in the SCV for the new residents, the killer commute south on the I-5 and Highway 14 through the Newhall Pass to and from those mortgage-paying jobs – seem compounded when one factors in the potential cumulative impact of these additional developments.
When it comes to SCV development, Newhall Ranch is just the tip of the iceberg.
Housing by the Numbers
Based on LA County and city of Santa Clarita planning documents (including the “One Valley One Vision” strategy adopted in June 2011 by county and city planners) and figures from the SCV Economic Development Corporation-College of the Canyons 2018 Economic Outlook, all the approved and pending SCV developments would add 36,593 new housing units to the valley over the next several years (8,694 in the city and 27,899 in unincorporated county territory).
But even all those new homes may still not be enough to ease the regional housing crunch.
As we noted in Part 1, LA County needs to build 180,000 new housing units between now and 2021 just to keep up with the county’s rapid population growth, according to Southern California Association of Governments statistics.
As to density, figuring three-person households, the developments we surveyed could add roughly 110,000 residents to the SCV’s population (293,042 as of 2016).
And figuring two vehicles per household, that could add 70,000-plus vehicles to traffic on local streets and highways. Of course, county and city planners require major developments to also make infrastructure improvements including roads, but it’s too early to tell if those improvements will be adequate.
High-Quality Jobs, Traffic Corridors
It all begs the question: Where will all those new Santa Clarita Valley residents find mortgage-paying jobs as the population keeps growing faster than local housing and the availability of those high-quality jobs?
Which leads to the next question: How will those commuters get to their mortgage-paying jobs?
According to SCAG, the median home price in our region is $600,000, and a person has to earn $106,000 to pay the mortgage (or persons, in a multi-income household).
One must assume most of the people buying these homes already have mortgage-paying jobs. But not necessarily in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Despite the best public and private SCV business development efforts, at least some, if not many, new residents may find it difficult to find mortgage-paying jobs close to home in an increasingly competitive local jobs market.
Instead, those untold thousands of additional job-seekers are likely to join the SCV residents already jamming the I-5 and Highway 14 through the Newhall Pass on their commutes to mortgage-paying jobs in employment hubs such as Burbank, Pasadena, Glendale, Downtown LA, Century City, Playa del Rey, or Santa Monica.
We’ll take a deeper dive into those employment and traffic questions in forthcoming installments of our series.
On the next pages, with the two freeway corridors in mind, we start an overview of several major SCV developments by flying with Aviator CPA Jorge Perazzo over the I-5 from north to south. Then we fly northwest across Santa Clarita and finally south again above Highway 14 toward the Newhall Pass.
PROJECTS IN DEVELOPMENT
1). Centennial at Tejon Ranch – Just off the I-5 near the Kern County border, Centennial at Tejon Ranch would build 19,500 homes there if approved by LA County planners. On July 11, the day 3W published the print edition of this issue, the Planning Commission ordered developers Tejon Ranch Co. back to the drawing board to plan more affordable housing, hiring and transportation options. Like future Newhall Ranch residents, Centennial residents are not likely to drive north to Bakersfield for employment. They, too, are more likely to join the local commuters already driving south on the I-5 to the SCV, or farther south “over the hill” if they can’t find work in the valley.
2). NorthLake – If approved by LA County Regional planners, the NorthLake development in unincorporated county territory between the I-5 and Castaic Lake would build up to 3,150 housing units in two phases on 345 acres of a 1,330-acre site.
3). Tapia Canyon Ranch & Los Valles – The first development proposes 405 homes built on Tapia Canyon Road in unincorporated county territory in Castaic. The second, a 430-acre parcel northeast of Hasley Canyon Road and Del Valle Road, has been county-approved for an upscale neighborhood of 497 single-family homes.
4). Entrada North & South – The 479.3- acre Entrada North in the southwest corner of the I-5/Highway 126 junction in unincorporated county territory is a town center-style development slated to include 1,150 multi-family residential units. Now being graded, the 501-acre Entrada South project just west of Six Flags Magic Mountain and north of Westridge will add 1,574 residential units (339 single-family and 1,235 multi-family) plus 730,000 square feet of commercial development. Part of the Newhall Ranch development, the Entrada developments were first proposed by original Valencia and Newhall Ranch developer Newhall Land & Farming (now owned by FivePoint Holdings).
5). Porta Bella (Whittaker-Bermite) – The 996-acre former Whittaker-Bermite munitions property in Saugus, the “donut hole” of open space within the city of Santa Clarita, may soon be developed after more than a decade of environmental rehab. In 1995, the Santa Clarita City Council approved a plan to develop the property into a 2,911-unit residential community to be called Porta Bella. But when toxic chemicals were found in the soil and groundwater, the Porta Bella Specific Plan was put on hold until cleanup completion, which is now slated for the end of 2018.
6). Skyline Ranch – Just outside the city of Santa Clarita’s northern border, the massive Skyline Ranch development is situated on 2,173.25 hilltop acres north and east of Nadal Street, west of Sierra Highway and south of Vasquez Canyon Road. Pardee Homes (a division of Weyerhaeuser, owned by TRI Pointe Homes) will build single-family homes on 1,032 lots and 188 single-family condominium units on three large lots.
7). Vista Canyon Ranch – JSB Development is building what it calls “the first transit-oriented sustainable community to be created in Santa Clarita” on 185 acres just east of Highway 14 and south of Sand Canyon, off Soledad Canyon and Lost Canyon Roads. Inside the Santa Clarita city limits, the Vista Canyon Ranch project includes 1,100 residences, nearly a million square feet of office-retail space, 200 hotel rooms, a Metrolink station and a bus terminal. What JSB bills as “the first truly car-optional community ever conceived in the SCV” is a worthy goal, considering the additional traffic of a couple thousand new Vista Canyon Ranch residents on Highway 14.It remains to be seen if those residents will actually take advantage of their “tremendous opportunities for non-personal vehicle commuting,” give up their cars and take the train to their jobs in Burbank or Downtown LA or even the West Side.
8). Fair Oaks Ranch & Aliento (Golden Valley Ranch) – Farther south on Highway 14, between Via Princessa and Golden Valley Road, Pardee’s Fair Oaks Ranch and Aliento (Golden Valley Ranch) developments continue creeping east into the foothills of the Angeles National Forest. Also inside Santa Clarita city limits, Fair Oaks Ranch is approximately 1,082 acres with several hundred homes, while the newer Aliento project – five gated master-planned sub-communities (including one for seniors 55+) – is approximately 900 acres with 499 homes.
Stephen K. Peeples is an award-winning journalist based in the Santa Clarita Valley. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.